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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Maori gagged by raids

A leading Maori lawyer believes anti terrorism raids have gagged the Maori population.

Nin Tomas from Auckland University's law faculty says the arrests of Tuhoe health worker Tame Iti and other Maori sovereignty and environmental campaigners is seen as part of the same history of oppression as detentions without trial during the land wars and the attacks on Parihaka and Rua Kenana.

She says the way the police are withholding information about the charges and the extremely wide scope of the investigation means Maori no longer know where they stand.

“People are unsure and because they’re unsure they’re going to be conservative, they’re going to watch what they say. Which is not good in a society that sees itself as a hallmark of free speech, of democracy. It sort of undermines democracy as we know it,” Dr Tomas says.

The Maori world often holds views which are at odds with the majority of New Zealand society, such as the debate over the foreshore and seabed.

SWIMMING LESSONS VITAL FOR TAMARIKI

Maori tamariki need to learn to swim, even if they don't have easy access to pools.

That's the advice from Mark Haimona of Water Safety New Zealand, who is trying to bring down the number of deaths from drowning.

He says many communities, especially in country areas, no longer have pools, but kids are still surrounded by water.

They need to know how to act around rivers, drains and tidal pools.

“Of course one of the most important things is learning how to swim, and that’s a key effort too, pushing that swim for life message so that our kids are getting the chance to get in the water and learning how to swim, and ideally it’s best if they learn alongside their parents, That’s the parents in the water, not the old days where we used to get chucked in,” Mr Haimona says.

Water Safety New Zealand has developed resources for kohanga and year one and two kura students which look at the tikanga around place names... and what water safety messages are included in those ideas.

YOUNG MAORI MALES VALUING CULTURE LESS

While most Maori are valuing traditional language and culture more highly, young Maori males are valuing it less.

That's the surprise finding of a survey of 1500 Maori conducted by Neilsen Research.

Researcher Anthony Wilson says the survey was the first to break down Maori into five groups - cultural traditionalists, upbeat achievers, strivers, young battlers, and disaffected youth.

That last group is the one causing many of the problems in the community, and they may be hardest to reach.

“They don't think there's very strong Maori role models for them, and in some ways they’ve probably replaced those role models with Snoop Dogg and 50 Cents and whoever else. They also have decided to turn their back to the culture in terms of whether it’s relevant to them or not,” Mr Wilson says.

The research should help policymakers and government agencies target their programmes.

PROTEST BEING CRIMINALISED

Maori see their radicals as being part of the whanau - but now they're told they're criminals.

Nin Tomas from Auckland University's law faculty says this month's terror raids are putting the whole of Maoridom on notice.

Maori are concerned people can detained seemingly indefinitely, with the police giving very little information about any alleged offences - harking back to the detentions without trial of 19th century leaders like Te Kooti and Te Whiti.

She says the police seem to be trying to criminalise protest.

“You know we've always thought that Maori protest has been part of the political life of New Zealand. One of the worries that’s occurring now through the community is that people are worrying that any protester may now be termed a criminal or a terrorist, so there’s quite a bit of concern if not fear out there now in the Maori community,” Dr Tomas says.

The effect of the police raids has been to make Maori people feel they no longer have a right of free speech.

CHEAP SEATS MEAN SAFER CHILDREN

Cheaper child car seats - and installing them properly - is the key to reducing the number of tamariki injured in car accidents.

That's the experience of the Ngati Hine Health Trust, which has been selling car seats at cost.

Trust member Karen Mackie says the main townships in Ngati Hine's rohe all lie on State Highway One.

She says over the past decade Northland has gone from having the lowest use of child restraints to having the highest.

“There's more child safety restraints being used by whanau, because they can get them at a lower cost. An ACC statistic in Northland, the injury rate has decreased by 3 percent,” Ms Mackie says.

Ngati Hine is training workers from the Kohanga Reo Trust with the aim of rolling out the child restraint programme nationwide.

SPORT A SOCIAL ACTIVITY FOR YOUNG

Young people play sport for social rather than health reasons.

That's something Maori community workers have known for years, and they've used it to try to get rangatahi onto the straight and narrow through involvement in team sports.

And it's been confirmed by research at Waikato University.

Clive Pope, a senior lecturer in sport pedagogy, says while adults focus on the health benefits of sport, rangatahi have different ideas.

“That is not the main driver for participation for many of these young people. It’s the social driver that really gets them involved. They like to be with their peers and they like to be doing something together, so why not participate in sport, The more options we give to them, the more they will come to the sporting activities,” Dr Pope says.

Whanau should support their rangatahi to stay involved in sports even after they have left school.

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